To Catch a Thief

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I had my first experience of someone re-publishing the articles that I write here on Mortgage Porter as their own on their mortgage blog.   I was incensed to say the least.   I dedicate a significant amount of time and care to my writings on my blogs. 

After I sent a short email to this person he replied:

"Tell me which posts are yours and ill take them down. I didn’t realize blog posts were copyright protected."

Even if posts were not copyright protected, does that make it okay to take someone else’s work and present it as your own without asking?  I think not…in fact, I know not!

From DevTopics.com (notice how I give DevTopics credit and a link for their work.  I also did not copy the entire article and would not do so without their permission):

Copyrights Protect Your Blog

Copyright is an intellectual property law that protects original works of authorship including literary works.  Your blog is protected by copyright the moment you produce it in tangible form on your computer and then publish it on the Web.  In other words, post a blog article, and it’s automatically and immediately copyrighted.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) extends copyright law to other countries that sign up, makes it illegal to circumvent anti-piracy measures, and increases penalties for copyright infringement on the Web.

Fair Use

The "fair use" rule of copyright law states that an author may make limited use of another author’s work without permission.  The fair use privilege is the most significant limitation on a copyright owner’s exclusive rights.

The following factors affect whether publishing content without permission is considered fair use or infringement:

  • Whether the original work was copied exactly or transformed into a new work
  • Whether the motive to publish was for profit
  • Whether the original author was cited and linked to
  • Quantity of the original work published, both in terms of total words and as a percentage of the original work
  • Quality of the original work published, in other words, whether the most important aspects were published

If you have or want to have a mortgage blog and do not have the time, confidence or skill to write your own articles; there are other options besides copying someone else’s efforts.   Mortgage originators can use tools such as Bring the Blog or Mortgages Undressed.   They pay a fee and the content is provided for them automatically.  It’s actually quite good.   They can also subscribe to services like Loan Tool Box or Strategic Equity where articles are available that you can post as your own.   These items are not for free…and the information you find here at Mortgage Porter is not yours for republishing.   If you really like a post someone has written, you can always link to it and give the author proper credit.   

The only defense (a weak one at that) is that this person appears to have just started blogging in October of this year.   Even still, how can someone take someone else’s work and post it as their own?  He has posted an apology on his blog; however, as of right now, my 5 posts are still there.

I’m watching his blog and will let you know when and if he stays true to his word and removes MY works from his blog.   I hope to be updating this post soon confirming this to be true.   

This is an eye-opener for me and I will be taking further steps to protect my content.  I enjoy writing for Mortgage Porter and Rain City Guide.  I don’t need nor want to spend a chunk of time going after blog-theives.   If you find someone has used your content as their own, you should take action too.

UPDATE 11:45 AM 12/11/2007:  My post have been removed from the blog site.  Hopefully this was simply a huge lesson for both of us.

Comments

  1. I don’t get it. Are these people that starved for content that they have to resort to stealing?

    Whatever happened to “give credit where credit is due”? Write something like “Mortgage Porter has a great article discusing blah blah blah link here”

  2. Anne Keller says:

    Good for you for letting us know your content has been stolen. There are way too many people in the world who don’t respect the intellectual property of others and don’t have any qualms about stealing it. I’m very pleased to see that you not only monitor your property but call out those who don’t know or don’t believe it is your property. Thank you for helping to keep the world honest! And, an even bigger thank you for doing your part to educate. Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks Anne and Clifford. I was kind of surprised how angry I was seeing my content word for word on this other site. I’m glad he removed it without me having to take other steps (which I’m prepared to do). It’s a little hard to give him the benefit of the doubt since he actually back dated my post (weird)…but I like to try to think the best in everybody or at least give them a chance. This is his one chance with me.

  4. Brian, you know it’s not stealing when you use a paragraph, credit the author and link back to the post. 🙂

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